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Type: Thesis
Title: Singapore’s foreign policy: beyond realism.
Author: Ting, Ming Hwa
Issue Date: 2010
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: This thesis argues that Singapore’s foreign policy seeks to maximise order, and not power. Hence, it proposes that the English School theory, with its focus explaining why a high degree of substantive order exists in an anarchical context is therefore a more appropriate tool to analyse Singapore’s foreign policy. To substantiate this point, this thesis examines Singapore’s foreign policy towards Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and India to show how this city–state has managed to conduct its relations with them within the framework of an international society. Japan is excluded because this thesis focuses on states that have the greatest potential to affect Singapore by virtue of three main considerations – geographical distance, future impact on regional geopolitical developments, and ethnicity. Due to their geographical proximity, Malaysia and Indonesia are arguably the states most important to Singapore. China and India, as the rising powers, constitute unknown variables since the nature and effects of their rise are still not clear, and Singapore’s foreign policy needs to be sensitive towards developments there. At the same time, Singapore is a predominantly ethnic Chinese state with a sizeable Malay minority that constitutes the majority in the region as well as a significant Indian minority, a demographic reality that has influenced its foreign policy as well. Japan is an important actor. However, compared with these four states, Japan has comparatively less impact on Singapore in these areas, and so it is not included. Literature on Singapore’s foreign policy is almost entirely based on Realism. Consequently, the resultant focus is on the conflictual, adversarial, and anarchical aspects, and associational aspects are overlooked. According to Realist theory, Singapore would be dominated by these larger states. This thesis draws attention to the fact that inter–state relations are not moderated solely by material considerations such as geographical and population sizes as depicted by Realism. Associational aspects are present as rules, values and norms also matter, which allows small states such as Singapore to interact with these larger states, both bilaterally and multilaterally, on the basis of formal equality. This shows that Singapore is able to influence the terrain in which its foreign policy is being conducted, which is apparent in its pursuit of a stable balance of power that involves all legitimate actors. As a result, a high level of order characterises its foreign policy, and this congruence justifies the use of the English School theory in this context.
Advisor: Jain, Purnendra Chandra
Patrikeeff, Felix
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2010
Keywords: Singapore; foreign policy; international relations theories; English School theory
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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